Going Pentecostal

I like to keep track of the liturgical calendar and so I’m thinking Pentecostal this week. This Sunday is Pentecost. It marks the end of the Easter season and the beginning of what’s curiously called "ordinary time." The time, I suppose, when nothing extraordinary happens.

But in thinking about Pentecost the first thing that came was a particular stripe of Christianity and a particular way of being a Christian. And I’m reminded of larger and deeper divisions. The many divisions within protestant Christianity, the greater division of Catholic and Protestant, the division of world faith traditions, and finally the divisions of holy and profane.

Brueghel’s Babel
brueghels babel

And all this reminded me of a knack I had for sorting out the “true Christians” from the non-Christians, or the "carnal-Christians," or the straight up pagans, or for that matter, anyone other than Baptist.

It’s a knack I learned early through a kind of osmosis while growing up in a small town with a big church. But I was willing enough. The knack we sometimes had the gall to call, the gift of discernement.

My discernment, through opening up to other osmotic sources, has undergone some adjustment. (I’m hoping perhaps even a reverse osmosis from my early one.)

I know now for instance, that Pentecost is not a denomination. Pentecost is the story of the undoing of all the hard divisions along these lines.

While the ancient story of the Tower of Babel describes a world fractured through misunderstanding, and scattered by subsequent tribal wars and blood-feuds, Pentecost, rightly read, is the radical coming together of the broken and the undoing of confusion and misunderstanding.

And in this mutual understanding lies the Pentecostal dream and vision of universal restoration. And this is the direction life in "ordinary time" should take us.

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1 Comment

  1. If only Pentecost hadn’t been so fleeting, and so quickly misunderstood and misused….can you imagine? Is it too late to re-understand it, and get it right, re-understand all of what happened in that part of the world back then, and experience it as a positive rather than negative force in the world?

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